Southern New Year’s Day Traditions
For as long as I can remember my family has celebrated New Year’s Day in a very specific way. We eat. A lot. And we don’t eat just anything, we eat what has become for me, and I’m sure many other southerners, the traditional fare.
We have black eyed peas, rice, collard greens, cornbread and ham. We sometimes add in coleslaw, for whatever reason, and call it good. Now this is certainly not counting the “non-traditional” add-ons like deviled eggs, strawberry salad and of course dessert.
As I’ve gotten older I have come to appreciate the tradition of sitting around the dinner table and everyone enjoying the holiday meal, however, as a child I can remember vehemently turning down the greens no matter how much my Mam Maw told me it would “make me rich.” Of course as I grew into my teenage years I started taking at least a bite of the greens, to ensure that the crazy lady wasn’t right and that I would indeed find money in the New Year.
Now as an adult I take great pleasure in keeping the traditions alive by cooking the meal and serving it to family and friends to enjoy. So in honor of that I thought my blog post would be my Mam Maw’s recipe for collard greens so if you don’t currently have one you can broaden your culinary horizons and try to make some money in 2016!
In the South we seem to eat for every holiday in excess, which is not always a bad thing, however, my personal opinion on why this is true is the camaraderie that comes with all those women in a kitchen cooking. While all the ladies in a family may not always get along, when it comes to preparing food for the family the petty grievances seem to get lost in the shuffle of working together and making something special. Or at least that’s what I think, and how I like to see holiday cooking.
Why give you the greens recipe and not the black eyed peas you may ask? Well because tradition says that the black eyed peas are for “luck” and in some cases “coins”, my assumption being that you, the reader, would rather get the “greenbacks” that the greens are supposed to bring.
Mam Maw’s Collard Greens
2 bunches collard greens
Seasoned Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
¾ cup of white sugar
Fatback (or some type of smoked meat)
In a large soup pot fill it about ¾ of the way full with water and place on the stove. Slice the fatback (or smoked meat) into chunks and put it in the water with the sugar. Allow the water to come to a boil and boil for about 20-30 minutes. While this is happening wash your greens thoroughly in cool water. Remove the greens from the stems and into bite sized pieces (we just rip them up into chunks). Place the greens in the boiling water and reduce heat to about half and cover (they should still boil gently, not a rolling bowl). Stir occasionally over the next 2 hours to make sure that the greens on top are also getting submerged. After 2 hours try the greens for tenderness & overall flavor (chef’s prerogative right?) and add salt/pepper to taste.
Now hopefully this will give you a starting point for some great greens and expand your family traditions. Here’s wishing you lots of greenbacks in 2019!
Leah Poole, CEO for the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce and Liberty County Convention & Visitor’s Bureau
The Right Blend Blog is written by two different authors employed by the Liberty County Chamber/CVB. As we are able, we rotate weeks and each writes about our individual experiences, opinions and let our writing reflect our personalities and creativity. All content provided on The Right Blend blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site.